What could be more natural than a New Hampshire antiques dealer becoming a magnet for crime?
Perhaps because she handles many expensive objects that sometimes bring out the worst in people, Josie Prescott has gotten a reputation as an amateur sleuth. So it’s appropriate, if horrifying, that she’s on the scene when one of her clients is shot dead in her parking lot. Alice Michaels was a doll collector and a financial advisor who was about to be arrested for an alleged Ponzi scheme. She’d just put down a deposit on a doll collection Josie had agreed to appraise for the two sisters selling it. When Josie’s helper is kidnapped on the way back from collecting more of the dolls, the ransom demanded is the collection itself. Although the dolls are valuable, Josie is sure that there’s more to them than meets the eye. Sure enough, X-rays reveal wads of bills hidden in some of their heads—perhaps rare and valuable Civil War notes, which would be well worth the kidnappers’ efforts. There are plenty of suspects in Alice’s death, starting with all those who lost money in her scheme. Even the dolls themselves may have had motives for murder. The police chief is a friend who’s not about to turn down Josie’s help when it comes to solving antiques-related crimes, even when it puts her in danger.
Cleland continues to offer clever mysteries (Deadly Threads, 2011, etc.) studded with enough information on antiques to keep collectors coming back for more.